Jan 09

My filing cabinet was full, containing thousands of documents ranging from old tax returns, to car service appointment papers, medical records, receipts, and even old school transcripts.  Although they were all organized quite well, it is still frustrating locating the documents that I need with ease, and even more difficult to view them remotely.

Well, I’ve changed that, by taking about 95% of my files and converting them into pdfs.  I’ve scanned hundreds of documents, named them in efficient ways, and organized them into meaningful categories to help me.  I’ve stored them in my Dropbox, which most of my friends now, is one of my favorite applications that Syncs all my data across all my computers and my iPhone.  I could dedicate an entire blog post, and even more, to the wonders of dropbox, but to sum it up, dropbox constantly “syncs” my files in the background across all the computers I used so that I always have a copy of what I need when and where I want it.

Once I converted everything to a pdf files and I named them properly, I organized them and shredded the original document, unless of course the original is needed, such as the pink slip to my Mini Cooper.  Now, when I need to locate a file, I can either navigate through my organized file structure or simply search for the name.  In moments, I can view the file, e-mail, or print it with ease.  Talk about convenience and simplicity!

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Aug 23

It’s been years since we’ve experienced the adventures that bicycling offers, but Mike and I decided to try out a new hobby, so we purchased 2 bicycles.

Since moving into our new home, we’ve began nightly walks around the neighborhood.  We never did that at our town-home, simply because the neighborhood wasn’t the greatest.  With the move, we starting taking nice walks for about an hour or so, three to five evenings a week.  Not only is it very peaceful, but it also allows us to talk about our days, and spend more time with each other.

Wanting to explore even more of the area around we, we decided to purchase bikes.  Not only would it be fun to do, but its also good for our health.

We had our first bike ride last night, and had so much fun!  I even bought a new iPhone application that tracks our travels.  I have greyed out the specific street names, but see the map below for our first bike ride.

It’s amazing what GPS Technology can do (I used AllSport GPS)

It even calculates changes such as speed, elevation, and resting periods.  While the application is not perfect, as it recorded a few fest periods, it done a very good job.  Another reason why I love my iPhone so much. 🙂  On our first journey around the neighborhood, we rode for just over an hour and 10 minutes, went 6.91 miles, at an average speed of 5.7mph.  Again, we weren’t going crazy fast, as we were casually biking while engaging in conversation.  It really is serene, and I look forward to many future bike rides around the block, and whereever life will take us.

I’ll post an update shortly with more interesting bike riding information.

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May 01

As I eagerly wait the close of escrow, I completed my purchase of a home alarm system.  As with any major purchase, I have done my share of homework and have researched alarm systems fully.  I’ve checked the major alarm companies, the smaller “small business” ones, and a few online providers.  After comparing everything, I know that Front Point was the choice for me.

I checked out the large companies, mainly ADT and Brinks (now Broadview security.  They frequently advertise specials such as $99 installation, etc.  However, when you delve in the fine print, this usually includes 2 sensors.  By the time you add everything up, you are looking at around $1,000.00.  In addition, it requires a phone line, which is difficult since Mike and I are a cell-phone only household.  Even if we did have a landline, they charge extra for cell phone backup.  So the monthly price is somewhere around $45-$55 or so.  Also, I’ve seen hundreds of negative reviews scattered all across the web.

I’ve checked out a few small local businesses, but unfortunately they just can’t compare with some of the bigger retailers. While their customer service can sometimes be superb due to the extra personal touch, they also don’t have the flexibility of having a large workforce with greater support hours.

Then I began checking out several on-line companies.  I found some, but there was always a catch.  Their equipment was cheap but monitoring was high.  Their customer service received horrible ratings, or their service required a phone line.  I found one that used one’s Internet, but what if a burglar cuts my Internet connection or cable line?  I needed a solution that was far superior.

I found Front Point Security, which uses the Alarm.com monitoring center for its service.  Not only is it perfect for cell-phone only households, but it never needs a landline.  It is cell only and uses both AT&T and T-Mobile for its backbone.  The benefit is that I don’t have to have a landline that could be cut by an intruder, and its always active.  Another benefit is that any time a door or window is opened, it sends a signal to the main monitoring station.  With traditional alarm systems, a signal is only sent to the central monitoring station after 30-60 seconds, meaning a burglar could quickly cut the line rending a system useless.  With Front Point, it sends a signal as soon as it is tripped, and unless you enter your code and the bypass signal is sent to the monitoring station, the alarm is tripped even if the burglar “cuts the cord.”

I know that people will be skeptical because it is cell based and we all know how well ATT is, but it uses data, not voice.  Data is much more reliable, which is why text messages usually go through when a network is overloaded and you cannot make a phone call- data uses almost no bandwidth and is easy for the network to handle.

In addition the having a strong backbone, the equipment pricing is fair and the customer service so far has been superb.  I am pleased with how friendly each interaction has been with their sales department.  I’ll give it a test in a few weeks once I’m a customer and see how their technical support is.  However, I”m almost positive that my experience will be pleasant and I’ve seen nothing buy positive reviews about them online.

Here is my favorite part, there is an iPhone application that allows me to control virturally any aspect of my system from my device.  I can arm, disarm, receive alerts, receive text messages, and find out the current status of my alarm from anywhere in the world.  If I forget to arm my system, I can open the iPhone application from work and turn it on.

I finally placed my order yesterday and I’ll have it next week.  I probably won’t install it for about two weeks or so until our house is fully painted and our new flooring is installed, but I’ll definitely post a review once I’ve had the system for a few months.

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